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I am a college sophomore and I am debating transferring out of my current school, Hunter college. My GPA is 3.56 and I am a CS and psychology major, concentration of behavioral neuroscience.

Now, I have always been interested in research but the resources in my school seems very tight and my overall experience has been very unsatisfying. My ultimate goal is to try out for MD/PhD program with a background in BCI (Brain computer interface) but my school offers no program in any close proximation.

So, should I transfer out or hold on until the end of my 4 years? And also is my GPA reasonable to transfer into better schools like NYU or WakeForest University?

Should I focus on graduating from my current school or plan to transfer to a more prestigious school?

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  • If your goal is MD/Ph.D, your PreMed GPA is likely to matter more than your comprehensive GPA. What is it? Commented Jan 13, 2014 at 13:47
  • By premed GPA do you mean the gpa of all the classes required for medschool? Or each individual course?
    – WalleXD
    Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 2:11
  • Yes, the average of all of your medschool requirements without the other poetry, anthropology, whatever else you're taking. Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 2:53

5 Answers 5

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I am not an expert in neuroscience or BCI. However, I found BP-Endure program where your current school Hunter College is a major partner.

On their web page,

During the academic year students will work with a research mentor at Hunter or NYU and during the summer in one of the partnering institutions. The BP-ENDURE program selects students from both Hunter College and NYU to participate. Hunter students will receive funding in the form of tuition remission and a stipend during the academic year and will also receive summer funding.

I am not sure why you said the resources in my school seems very tight and my school offers no program in any close proximation. Are you having difficulty getting into that program?

Transferring to another school may cost you a lot than what you'll gain. You may lose the credits you already have and retake courses you have taken plus your financial loss. However, if you have other difficulties with your current school(which you have not mentioned), then transferring may be an option for you.

My advice for you specifically, stay there and study hard, grab any opportunity to enter into the BP-Endure program.

In general, however, if your research area requires resources you don't have in your current school, it's worth considering transferring. You need to weigh on the cost vs. gain. You can either stay in the current school acquiring fundamental knowledge and apply to a graduate school where you would have better resources after you graduate, or transfer to another undergraduate school with much better resources.

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I transferred schools during undergraduate under a similar situation, but with a different academic focus. The school I ended up transferring into was far more competitive, so I got what I wanted.

Unfortunately, I also ended up staying in the program for an additional year because the school I transferred into required that I take their version of the same courses.

When I finally graduated, I was proud that I was pushed harder and learned more, but found that many of the same opportunities existed despite having gone to a better university.

I have since completed a masters without any intentions of continuing towards a PhD, but I found that I do enjoy research, so now I am in the second year of my PhD studies. Actually, I regret having entered into the PhD program but that is beside the point.

The lessons that I've learned from about 8 years of college at this point are that undergraduate research appointments are... well... not all they're cracked up to be.

The better research opportunities are available for masters students, and the best for PhD students, and even that is a completely relative situation depending on a huge number of factors. I've seen two of my fellow PhD students transfer universities after their professor took a job elsewhere. I've seen PhD students in very competitive departments get stuck with a lame professor; and I've likewise seen PhD students in lame departments find an awesome professor.

And, to make research opportunities more difficult to gauge: its commonly known amongst graduate students that the pecking order for research appointments benefits the PhDs the most, and the undergraduates the least. Often the undergraduates are used for all the crap nobody else wants to do, and while learning the basics might be good for an undergraduate, the work is usually tedious, boring and repetitive.

Masters students are usually given more application based work, which is really good for honing skills, and the PhDs are given the more theoretical work, which even then can be a professors sloppy seconds.

The best advice I can give you is to stay exactly where you and look for research opportunities with a professor that you really enjoy and want for mentorship. If you have a particular project in mind, then do an independent study with them. Having a solid GPA and having demonstrated an individual drive can speak volumes more than attaching yourself to a bunch of names (though I don't underestimate the name attachment in academia).

EDIT: As a second thought, I can't tell you how much it sucked switching universities and becoming distant with those friendships I made. Yeah, I made new friends that were also really awesome, but starting over can be lonely.

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  • -1 because this answer is overly personal, rambling
    – Argalatyr
    Commented Jan 18, 2014 at 14:50
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    Yes it's personal, it's first hand experience for having gone thorough what the OP asked about. Rambling? It is a bit long, but I didn't want to write something generic like "there is no right or wrong answer".
    – Twitch
    Commented Jan 18, 2014 at 18:45
  • This forum, like StackExchange sites in general, is not a chat room. This site's instructions make this clear, and emphasize that personal opinion and chit-chat are not valued highly. While my answer includes opinion, it's voiced in a general way and it represents norms of academic assessment.
    – Argalatyr
    Commented Jan 19, 2014 at 23:45
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    Pot, meet kettle.
    – Twitch
    Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 19:23
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It's all about what you accomplish - whether you stay where you are or transfer. Yes, if you can transfer to a school with a stronger reputation and hit the ground running, that may put you in a better position. That said, it's not going to be easy to transfer in with only a fairly high GPA at a less-rigorous school, and you'll lose some time in making the transition/adjusting.

A transfer can be a warning sign - is this someone with a pattern of not finishing what they start, or was this an isolated, carefully-considered, strategic choice? If the latter, no problem.

When I consider applicants, what they do (e.g. specific field) is far less important than how they advance and accomplish, what aptitude they have demonstrated for gaining new skills and working with a team. I'm sure there are things that could be accomplished at your current school, even if the topic is not your first choice. The letters from mentors carry a lot of weight. It takes time to establish strong relationships after a transfer - keep that in mind if you already have an advocate on the faculty at your current school (and consider getting their advice on this).

There is no right or wrong decision; regardless of whether you stay or go, the real challenge is making the most of the available resources and developing strong mentors among the faculty.

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Well your GPA seems very good and i feel you can get admission in any other college. If you think you are not satisfied with the performance of your institute then there is no point of staying there because at the back of your mind you will always be thinking that you could have been to some better place. I believe that you should have been more cautious before choosing your institute because switching it is a bit difficult task. If you would have assured before admission that an institute is accredited as per standards, http://www.iao.org/iao/institutional-accreditation/, then you would have an enhanced sense of credibility. My advice is to look for another institute which you feel is as per global standards.

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Don't transfer. Try to learn to make use of the available resources. Focus on hard work and your own research. Sometimes studying a difficult book is more rewarding than having access to high-tech instruments and possibly not really understanding how they work.

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    If he transfers, he still can study difficult books with access to high-tech instruments. Your reasoning is not convincing.
    – Nobody
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 2:28
  • But the post also may suggest it might be easier for the student to obtain more knowledge just because there are more high-tech instruments available. In my opinion, it's not usually the case because most students lack in-depth knowledge of the basic instruments, not to mention high-tech instruments.
    – user10815
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 2:50
  • Where did the OP mention high-tech instruments? He says the resources in my school seems very tight. You're the one who interpretes that means access to high-tech instruments !
    – Nobody
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 2:57
  • The student's description is self-explanatory. Not every university can afford high-tech Brain computer interface instruments (I did a lot of research on that and they are very costly, even for college).
    – user10815
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 3:04

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